Can A Police Quota Get Your DUI Case Thrown Out Of Court?

Could the use of police quotas get your DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) case thrown out of court? Very possibly. This is what you should know.

Do Quotas Really Exist?

Whether or not there really are mandatory arrest quotas depends on a lot on who you ask and what they define as a "quota." While many people have the long-standing belief that the police do have quotas to meet (even if they aren't officially written down), a lot of police departments will deny their existence.

Some departments, however, will admit to "performance expectations" for their officers - which sound an awful lot like quotas, since the officers are expected to make a certain number of traffic stops and DUI arrests every few hours.

How Does This Affect A DUI Case?

Quotas (or performance expectations) put pressure on officers to make traffic stops without "probable cause." Police officers are not supposed to be able to pull you over and start a DWI investigation without some reasonable suspicion on their part that you're driving while impaired.

Unless something you do triggers the traffic stop, the police are violating your rights. This can get the entire DUI case thrown out of court.

What Equals Probable Cause?

Probable cause for a DUI stop is usually defined as any negative observation about your driving by the police officer who pulled you over. That could be anything from swerving in traffic to making a turn too widely. Once you've been pulled over, however, the officer will continue to assess you for signs of intoxication. He or she will look for:

  • open containers
  • the odor of alcohol on your breath or clothing
  • red-rimmed or bloodshot eyes
  • flushed skin
  • slurred speech
  • difficulty answering questions

At that point, the officer may ask you questions about whether or not you've had any alcohol to drink before you got into the car or ask you to participate in what are called field sobriety tests. If this happens, you can be nearly certain that the officer suspects that you are driving while intoxicated and you are likely to be arrested.

Can You Fight Probable Cause?

In the days prior to dash cams, it was essentially your word against the officer's word as to whether or not you committed a traffic offense that was enough "probable cause" to be pulled over and subjected to a DUI investigation.

Today, many police cruisers are equipped with dash cameras that record traffic stops, which can assist your case if you were simply the target of a police officer who was being pressured to meet some type of quota. Judges and juries alike take a dim view of officers who exaggerate probable cause in order to nose out potential DUI cases.

Growing concern over the violation of the public's rights by aggressive police tactics have brought DUI arrest quotas into the news. This is giving attorneys new leverage when it comes to attacking the probable cause behind traffic stops that have lead to questionable DUI charges. If this is your situation, talk to an DUI attorney today about your case so that you can begin to mount your defense.